“WEDNESDAY” IS KOOKY, SPOOKY, AND ALTOGETHER ENJOYABLE
Written by Tony Schultz on January 19, 2023
Remakes are always a sketchy proposition. Re-imaginings are usually worse than the original. Hollywood is a glut of rehashing old material to make a buck while usually not really improving on the original source or killing it all together. There are occasions when they do make something better or that fits within the original’s source and accentuates it. While Marvel/Disney have built a movie empire on the backs of superheroes and their many exploits. DC/Warner Bros. have been constantly rewriting their story lines and recasting characters to try to play catch-up with varying degrees of success that is usually on the negative side. We all want to see something new, but if Hollywood decides to draw from something already done with a fanbase that will call out mistakes then it needs to hold the spirit of the original while giving us a shiny new spin. In this case, it’s a macabre spin around the world of “The Addams Family” that came out in 1964 and was later made into a successful movie in 1991 with a sequel “Addams Family Values” in 1993. Those movies were well done and well received because they made great use of the source material and the cast was fabulous in their personifications. Now Netflix has put out “Wednesday” which centers around Wednesday Addams and her time at Nevermore Academy, a school for the odd whose founding father is Edgar Allan Poe. Wednesday really became a pop culture phenomenon when the movies came out because Christina Ricci nailed the character so perfectly. You have to wonder with this iteration of the character, under the direction of Tim Burton would it be as hauntingly charming as the show or movies? Mr. Burton has had his share of remakes from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to “Planet Of The Apes” and even TV shows like “Dark Shadows” and they were not all well received.
Tim Burton’s mind lives in the playful shadows. Not the dark ones where everything is a horror story waiting to happen, but where every day is Halloween and that there is more fun than fatalism to be found there. Tapping him for this project seems to be the right decision. “Wednesday” doesn’t tear down all the walls and memories of the show or the movies. They seem to, in fact live within the same realm as there are callbacks to both. There are a few fun Easter Eggs in the first couple episodes alone that give you the Leo-pointing-at-the-TV meme vibes. When watching, if your kids grew up on “Harry Potter” like mine did you will also get the feeling of a return to Hogwart’s without all the backstory. Yes, it’s in a school and the Addams seem to live in a world where magic and wizardry exist, but it is not a ripoff of the popular boy wizard. It’s simply a feeling and it is enjoyable without being a nerd induced geek fest of inside jokes you’ll only know if you read the books. This is definitely not a show to watch with younger children, but you could sit with your teens and enjoy the creepy fun mixed with light nuances of young adult romances and high school drama and a mystery of who the bad guy really is. Or, are there more than one person of interest in the web being woven here? While the plot centers around Wednesday herself you do get to see all of the characters you know in snippets and flashbacks with a bit more backstory given to those you know and love. Some of the story feels familiar and somewhat predictable, but it leaves you guessing and is fun in it’s development as is Jenna Ortega’s portrayal of Wednesday that seems to draw mostly from Ricci’s 90’s iteration. My favorite setup is Wednesday’s new roommate, Enid who is the polar opposite of her: color, rainbows, and exuding joy and smiles even at dark times. Instead of taking the tired story of the two of them being enemies they are friends. Well, as much as friends can be with Miss Addams. I suggest not bingeing this show in a weekend as the hour long episodes are filling for a break in between of a day or so to absorb where you are and then slink back into it. “Wednesday” is the dark comedy you’ve been waiting to see that doesn’t disappoint as a Hollywood remake trying to score a few dollars at the vision’s expense. There is warmth within it’s dark encasement and fun fighting off the terror that is obviously looming. Give this kooky, spooky, and all together ooky show a watch.